Background: Mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) is the main cause of HIV-1 infection in children worldwide. Given that the C-type lectin receptor, dendritic cell-specific ICAM-grabbing non-integrin-related (DC-SIGNR, also known as CD209L or liver/lymph node - specific ICAM-grabbing non-integrin (L-SIGN)), can interact with pathogens including HIV-1 and is expressed at the maternal-fetal interface, we hypothesized that it could influence MTCT of HIV-1. Methods and Findings: To investigate the potential role of DC-SIGNR in MTCT of HIV-1, we carried out a genetic association study of DC-SIGNR in a well-characterized cohort of 197 HIV-infected mothers and their infants recruited in Harare, Zimbabwe. Infants harbouring two copies of DC-SIGNR H1 and/or H3 haplotypes (H1-H1, H1-H3, H3-H3) had a 3.6-fold increased risk of in utero (IU) (P = 0.013) HIV-1 infection and a 5.7-fold increased risk of intrapartum (IP) (P = 0.025) HIV-1 infection after adjusting for a number of maternal factors. The implicated H1 and H3 haplotypes share two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in promoter region (p-198A) and intron 2 (int2-180A) that were associated with increased risk of both IU (P = 0.045 and P = 0.003, respectively) and IP (P = 0.025, for int2-180A) HIV-1 infection. The promoter variant reduced transcriptional activity in vitro. In homozygous H1 infants bearing both the p-198A and int2-180A mutations, we observed a 4-fold decrease in the level of placental DC-SIGNR transcripts, disproportionately affecting the expression of membrane-bound isoforms compared to infant noncarriers (P = 0.011). Conclusion: These results suggest that DC-SIGNR plays a crucial role in MTCT of HIV-1 and that impaired placental DC-SIGNR expression increases risk of transmission. © 2009 Boily-Larouche et al.
Boily-Larouche, G., Iscache, A. L., Zijenah, L. S., Humphrey, J. H., Mouland, A. J., Ward, B. J., & Roger, M. (2009). Functional genetic variants in DC-SIGNR are associated with mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1. PLoS ONE, 4(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0007211